2016 Tuhao As Fuck Sheng Puer from White2Tea

I bought White2Tea’s 2015 Tuhao As Fuck early when it came out, took awhile for me to drink, and enjoyed it enough to not drink it again that I was considering to purchase a cake. I procrastinated, then the 2016 Tuhao AF came out so I purchased a sample of that. I am still procrastinating on a cake as I am quite happy with multiple cakes of the cheaper 2016 Teadontlie.

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Anyways, today’s the day to try the 2016 Tuhao AF. I felt I needed to drink this soon to compare with my recent review of 2016 We Go High, another White2Tea sheng at the same price point. My Tea Owl is blinged out for the occasion. Tuhao means gaudy.. I guess he should had some hootdazzling done, but I couldn’t find my rhinestones.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping

Oooh, I like a big nice sample piece! The puer is mostly dark green tones with the odd silver leaf. The leaf has a light scent to it that is a difficult for me to pick up.

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I started off safe with a 1 gram to 15ml tea to vessel ratio with 200F water temperature.

Tasting of White2Tea’s 2016 Tuhao As Fuck Sheng Puer

The hot steeped leaf smells sweet, a little floral and tall summer grass.

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First and Second Infusion: 2016 Tuhao AF steeps up a clear light citrine yellow with a light grassy scent.

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Tuhao AF sips in soft citrus grass with a bit of linen in the background. Not gaudy yet! The texture is heavy and slick throughout the sip. The aftertaste is bright citrus and sweet.  Very pleasant and personable tea at this stage.

Third and Fourth Infusion: Still on the light, personable, citrus, grassy, and sweet side but I am getting a whiff of amber incense and slight bitterness. The tea has a stickyness to it, like there’s a couple grains of cooked rice on my chin.

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Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: Boiling time! No nice Ms. Owl, we beat our teas here. Tuhao sips a moderate flavor level of of mineral, wet gem stones and pavement. Still sweet like and maybe a little floral. However the boiling water switch turned Tuhao into a fragrance bomb – my mouth explodes with a stale, lingering floral that does not quit.

I had a break here as my computer spazzed and needed to reboot for updates and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Then my bloody phone wanted to update too. I was stuck not writing and drinking for 15 minutes and I could still taste the fragrance bomb of tuhao. I’d also compare this tea as tasting like a permanent trail leading away from a fragrance counter at a department store – a lingering floral burned into the carpeting.

Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Infusion: There is an astringency  building here making my cheeks scratchy. The notes lost the bulk of the sweetness – more subtle sweet, tasting more mineral wet stones sweet, steamed rice, butter and starting to cook to mush grass. In addition, there is a hint of bitterness from the vegetal, but it is pretty light. Tuhao AF almost tastes like gai lan vegetal at first, but with each steeping it fades to more mineral and butter. The texture is still nice and slick. It is still a big floral fragrance bomb after each sip.

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I’m feeling pretty excitable right now. I’ve been distracting as I’ve been shrieky, jittery, and bouncing in my chair online shopping while I sipped these last steeps. Forget the blog, I need Sephora and Korean beauty products. I need all the egg, snail, fermented tea, pig fat, watery gel, hell pore products. And some highlighter – my feathers need to glow from space. Actually, last time I drank the 2015 Tuhao I got pretty wrecked and bought nail polish… a big giant holo haul.

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Fifteenth Infusion: Power steeping! 40 minute infusion… as I was distracted Tea Drunk shopping. It isn’t very bitter or dry, that level stayed pretty constant since earlier. The flavor is still buttery, mineral. The fragrance is still there but not as potent. The tea was also lukewarm.

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Comments

I find White2Tea’s 2016 Tuhao as Fuck a pretty approachable, drink now, higher end tea with its main feature of ultra lingering aftertaste fragrance. Let’s just get that out there first, this tea is $140 for 200 gram cake. I got quite a few steepings and Tuhao does pretty well boiled – this cake can take a good beating and while it does have some dryness and bitterness, it is on the light side.

I think if you are the type that has been buying the $50 or less range or wants to explore with a sample of an expensive puer, this is the tea for you. Tuhao AF is very approachable compared to the bitter, more crazy 2016 We Go High. 2016 Tuhao as Fuck is also perfect for types who favor oolongs and fragrance drinkers – you will greatly enjoy this sheng! More hardcore drinkers who can take bitter and want epic would prefer to pass and go directly for 2016 We Go High.

 

Oolong Owl’s 2016 Tea Consumption and Stash Data

Happy New Years! 2017! I have completed another year of tracking all my teas, how much I drank and received. I track my entire tea stash and consumption on Google Sheets, which I find handy as I can access it on my phone and computer.

If you want to learn more about my spreadsheets – Tea Stash Spreadsheet | Tea Consumption Spreadsheet.

Due to popular demand – here is a template of my Tea Stash Spreadsheet! Save a copy to make it yours.

2016 was a crazy year for me. I moved from Los Angeles to Seattle. I finally got a full pumidor set up as crock storage was getting out of control with my stash.

Oolong Owl’s 2016 Tea Stash Data

First off, here’s a link to last years, Jan 2016, tea stash data.

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I am starting 2017 with a terrible tea count. I started 2016 with 596 teas, so much for reducing my stash. April 2016 I had my stash to 517 (a purge happened before my move), then it jumped to 689 in August, crawling to 717 in November. I busted my butt drinking down samples every weekend in December, juggling teas I bought from Black Friday, getting my total to 709. Sigh. I even bought less tea this year too – a lot of this inflation was from too many samples from group buys and travelling tea boxes.

Here is the chart from the beginning of 2016 to compare:

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I got more white teas in 2016 as I discovered how I like to steep them – boiling! The white tea number doubled, but what isn’t reflected is most of my white tea purchases were at least 3oz each. I got more sheng puer and managed to trim down my green tea stash.

If you were curious what 709 teas looks like, here is my stash today, Jan 1 2017… in its cluttered glory:

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Yeah, I didn’t want to clean it for photos as I was going to go through everything soon. That space between bookshelves was where the pumidor was. I had to move it to another room as it was getting too cold.

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(photos does not include my Tea Blog queue basket. Those are spoilers!)

Oolong Owl’s 2016 Tea Consumption

I track how much tea, by weight, I drink every day. I also track how much tea comes in and leaves my stash. Besides tea weight being most optimal to figuring out serving vs a teaspoon, I find weight adds the best information on how much tea you really drink to compare to how much you buy.

  • Average tea drank per day = 17.6 grams
  • Average tea drank per month – 518.5 grams
  • Most drank tea in a month = January at 814 grams,  26.3 grams a day. December 2015 I also drank a lot of tea, this was likely the continuation of panic to drink more.
  • Least Tea Drinking Month = April at 306 grams total, 11.3 a day average. I moved to Seattle in April, and I have a number of days with no tea consumed. I recall I bought those big jugs of ItoEn tea to drink during the 3 days the movers were there and I was flying with a pissed off rabbit. April, May, and June were low tea drinking months in general with less than 400 grams each month, thus why my totals are a little less this year. Those 3 months I was stuck only using a 75ml gaiwan too. July, once I moved into permanent housing and had all my tea things unpacked I jumped to 538 grams.
  • Total Tea Consumed for 2016 – 6222 grams / 13.7 pounds! 

2017 Tea Goals and Predictions

Continue with tea data collection – Like previous years, I will continue with my data collection. I highly recommend a tea stash spreadsheet once you hit around 100 teas – if you wait too long it just gets worse to make.

Add a Teaware tab in Tea Spreadsheet – I already keep track of my clay pots so I remember their size and seasoning, which I find very handy. I would like to expand that to document all my teaware and cost, for reference and insurance purposes.

The Great Purge and Reorganize – I am planning a big sort and purge this month to make my stash trim. There is likely some fruity teas in there that are in bad shape from age that need to be pitched. From there, I will regroup similar and tin to hopefully free up space.

2017 tea stash predictions – Admittedly, I accepted much less vendor samples in 2016. I obviously have too much tea… as of 2 years ago. I bought 30% less tea this year too. I purchased better tea in 2016 and will continue in 2017.  I predict in 2017 my white and green tea numbers may reverse. I have been steadily not buying as much greens and rehoming them before they get too old. 2017 is also Year of the Rooster, which is my year. I’ve been looking forward to this year and plan to buy quite a bit of puer for future aging. Fingers crossed 2017 is a good year!

2013 Hummingbird Spring Jing Mai Sheng Puer from Bitterleaf Teas

I cannot say no to a jing mai material puer! Today’s review is Bitterleaf Teas’ 2013 Hummingbird Spring Jing Mai Sheng Puer. This puer is spring, gushu (old tree) material.

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Bitterleaf Teas sells their 2013 Hummingbird in a few different styles – sample, 357 gram cake, and mini coin 10 gram cakes. My sample is from a cake. Reports from my tea friends saw the coin form has smaller leaves so flavor could vary.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

The dry leaf smells sweet and floral. I love when puer samples give you a nice hunk of tea!

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Bitterleaf includes steeping instructions on the other side of the label.

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I decided 2013 was old enough for me to just boil. I used 1 gram of leaf for 15ml of vessel size. I might as well be a jerk and taste all the flaws! ALL OF THEM! I do like to tease hummingbirds. I get quite a few at my house and they got really mad at my orchids (now dead) I kept inside by the window. There would be a couple hovering at the window, then they would start fighting with chasing and face jousting.

Tasting of Bitterleaf Teas’ 2013 Humming Bird Spring Jing Mai

The hot leaf smells like steamed tulips and old perfume. The colour comes out clear and a touch peachy yellow.

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First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: 2013 Hummingbird sips in light with a smooth, savory and buttery flavor, and with each steeping the flavor grows more vegetal. There is a hint of sweet vegetal, kind of like lightly steamed asparagus. The texture is very thick, coating my mouth as if I was drinking heavy cream. The later steepings here get a bit of a fleeting floral fragrance after each sip.

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Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: Oooh, Hummingbird is still smooth and thick! The flavor has reached a breaking point where I’m getting some bitterness – it’s a sweet bitterness with a twinge of toasty. I feel like I am on the cruise ship, I get all glutton crazy and cram my face with heavy, rich foods. I’ve chowed down on some asparagus dripping with cream, butter, and brulee’d cheese crust on top. I feel ready to order dessert just about now. The texture makes my mouth water, wanting more food!

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Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion: Finally, the dessert course! Hummingbird moved sweeter – the flavor is a mix of wet stones mineral, bit of sweet tobacco, and golden raisin. It still is somewhat savory, but mostly sweet. Bah, it is like I got the dried fruit and cheese platter for dessert.. a good compromise, I feel utterly full from eating the mega entree of the first 8 infusions of thick cream. I likely could of milked more sweetness out of this sheng if I steeped it with a lower temperature instead of going hot and abusive.

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Comments

Bitterleaf Teas’ 2013 Hummingbird Spring Jing Mai Sheng Puer is a pretty approachable sheng that is ready to drink now – low bitterness with an exceptional texture. What I enjoyed most was how thick this tea was, it was like drinking cream – if you love heavy thick teas this is a match! The flavors are a good balance of savory and sweet, and this tea sports a good flexibility to it if you played with steep times and temperature. I would likely take the rest of my sample the next time I travel as it has bombproof potential to taste great with unknown water temperature conditions. I find jing mai maocha cold brews well, if you want to take the time to steam it loose you will be in for a treat.

I didn’t find 2013 Hummingbird Spring Jing Mai super sweet like other Jing mais I’ve had, however I pushed it with boiling water aggressively plus this tea has a few years on it. Either way, it did fine with boiling water bringing out all that texture! At this time, 2013 Hummingbird Spring Jing Mai is priced at $0.20 a gram, up to $72 for 357g cake, which is priced pretty well.

(tea provided for review)

December 2016 White2Tea Club feat. 2010 Liu Bao

December 2016 White2Tea Club! This month came with a 250 gram brick of 2010 LiuBao with a sample of Hot Brandy 15 grams and 10 grams of Qilan Trees. I reviewed Qilan Trees back in September 2015 and I bought a cake of Hot Brandy (review incoming). I also got the first round of other White2tea orders come in at the same time as my club. I decided I will just be drinking the club LiuBao today. I am unfortunately missing the information handout that usually comes with the club.

A photo posted by Char (@oolongowl) on

Dry Leaf

This is a big dense brick of tea. The top and bottom are even shiny and almost smooth from being pressed so hard. The Liubao smells wet storage, so kind of like a wet basement full of library books. This comes as a relief as the last Heicha we got from the White2tea club (December 2015) was a tire fire.

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Thankfully, the 2010 Liubao brick breaks off easy enough with a puer breaking tool. It did come off in large dense chunks and shattered little pieces.

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Steeping Instructions

I rolled with 1 gram 14/15ml vessel. I used boiling water and 2 rinses. I let the tea sit after the final rinse, without any water in it, for a couple minutes to steam open the piece I picked off. This trick worked awesomely perfect – I came back to a fluffed wad of liubao instead of the dense rock I started with.

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First and Second Infusion: The heicha steeps up a dark nutty brown. The hot leaves smells like extreme wet basement with a chestnut roaster being run.

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2010 LiuBao sips in mildly wet tasting. If you never had wet tasting tea, it’s like that smell of fall leaves that have gone mush, cross between a soggy basement funk, or wet library book. Some people love this taste, others have to be in the right mood for it… and I never heard of what a new drinker thought of this. There is a touch of tobacco notes in the mix too. The texture is lip balmy licky.

Third and Fourth Infusion: The flavor here is bright and slightly light. You can likely overclock this tea for maximum basement flavor. I think back to the last heicha we got (aka Bacon Log) this tea is not smokey, peaty, rich or thick, this is the opposite of being bright, wet and woodsy. We are drinking a late fall, decaying yet clean forest with a nice selection of old books – post-apocalyptic tire fire pile with a pork belly being rotisserie at the peak.

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Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: More flavor shifting – I am getting bright, clean fall leaves note with a bit of pumpkin and nutty chestnut skin vibe… with some mushy forest floor. This has been really easy to drink as there is no funky smoke, bitter or dryness (not counting the super wet tastes early on).

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Tenth and Eleventh Infusion: It is a battle to keep this tea going, it tastes lighter and lighter, and I’m steeping it for 10 and 15 minutes here, but the leaf still smells like it has more pay off. I can likely milk out another one or two with some exceptionally long infusions, or stop here. The flavor is wet floor, nutty and mysteriously sweet, an enjoyable sip.

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Comments

If you love that wet basement flavor of liubao, this is a good fit tea. I’m pretty happy with the value of the club this month as this is a pretty beefy cake, and the oolong is not a cheap one and Hot Brandy is solid too. I think this 2010 LiuBao is a good starting brick to getting your tastes ready for that wet storage taste as it is.

2017 White2Tea club – what adventures will we have?

 

The Wall Tea Infuser from Boreal Wildcraft

I first encountered The Wall Tea Infuser at the World Tea Expo. I walked by and saw it on display. I thought, “What crap, it is only for right-handed people.”

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The Boreal Wildcraft guys promptly told me, “We do carry a left handed one, and oddly it sells just as well as the right handed ones, despite left handers are only like 10% of the population.” Then they showed me the left handed model.

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To be honest, at that point I bought a left handed one without a second thought. I did not care how good the tea infuser was or that I preferred to remove my leaf. THEY MADE A LEFT HANDED THING AND THEY NEED TO HAVE MY LEFT HANDED MONEY.

I got home, tried out The Wall tea infuser. My life was changed. I took forever to review this mug as it just became a part of my tea life so seamlessly, I forgot I never owned it. I use mine almost every day – it is my go-to drink in front of computer tea mug. Since June 2016, almost every Oolong Owl article was typed with The Wall tea infuser to my left of the keyboard, with me drinking grandpa style tea.

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The Wall Tea Infuser Stats

  • 2 sizes! 310ml and 440ml (10.5 oz / 15 oz)
  • Built-in infuser
  • Right Handed or Left Handed models
  • 100% borosilicate glass
  • Dishwasher and Microwave safe

The Wall Tea Infuser is sold at:

Boreal Wildcrafts site (FYI, they are Canadian)

Amazon.com (Right-handed model only at this time)

I purchased the 310ml, left handed. I opted for the smaller size as it seemed more convenient for me.

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How it Works

The Wall Tea Infuser is all glass, with a holey glass wall mounted to the side. As you sip, it filters the tea. This tea infuser is so seamless and simple!

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The shape is interesting as the bottom isn’t flush, which I found it handy as the cup never tips over, let fairly stable.

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Pros

The ULTIMATE grandpa style mug – I don’t know if they were thinking about it, but The Wall Tea Infuser does grandpa style like a boss. I add around 3-10 grams of leaf (depending on my mood and tea), chug away and keep topping up with more hot water. The glass material loses heat, but leads to fast drinking with grandpa style.

Pleasure to drink out of – the mug is thin, light, the handle fits 3 fingers, and balances perfectly in my hand. The handle does not get hot. The height of the glass wall infuser is perfect, no leaf flops out on my face – completely seamless to drink out of!

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Cons

Does not filter fine leaf – Rooibos, CTC blacks, and herbals just do not work in The Wall. The glass filter holes are just not fine enough to stop tiny leaf. The most disaster I had was using loose leaf chamomile – the infuser was just utter fail and did nothing. That said, The Wall Tea Infuser works well with other teas, likely leaning moreso to unflavored teas.

Oversteeping – You cannot remove the leaf in this cup. If you are the type who waits 10 minutes before sipping your tea, or forgets their tea, this mug might drive you crazy with oversteeping.

You can work with this though, but it requires some tea steeping talents:

  1. Leaf less. 2-3 grams is a good starting point, then figure out your tastes from there.
  2. Lower the temperature. 200F is my go to temperature for this mug, even for shou and black teas.
  3. Buy the smaller size even though you are one of those 12-16oz big mug types.
  4. Use bombproof teas that don’t get bitter with oversteeping.

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Other considerations

Glass – I have a love hate, mostly hate, relationship with glass. I dislike glass as it breaks easy and cools too fast. Some people love glass because of appearance or lack of metals involved with their tea. The Wall has some perks being glass as mentioned above, but also I’m worried I’m gonna break this thing one day.

Cleaning – I tend to not clean it, just rinse after use. After a few days, it gets ugly and tea stained. The photo above with the big leafed white tea is it’s natural state of not been cleaned in awhile. The glass infuser wall magnifies all the tea stains in it, so you need to thoroughly clean it. The glass infuser wall also gives you an annoying obstacle, making cleaning under it a pain, and of course that is where all the tea stains are. The Wall is dishwasher safe, but I don’t trust my current dishwasher for delicates. A bottle cleaning brush or soaking in baking soda/denture tabs does the trick.

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Not Ambidextrous – This is completely silly, I mostly use my left hand to pick up my tea cups, but sometimes I use my right hand, say if I’m writing something. I had a couple brain farts when I used my right hand and ate leaf. At this point I realized Right handed or Left handed doesn’t matter – you need to consider which is your main tea drinking hand.

Sizing – I have the 310ml size and was curious what they meant by that. Filled to the brim, it is 370ml BUT you cannot fill it to the brim as all the leaves will just float over the infuser. Measured to the filter, it clocks in at 280ml, so off 30ml. Maybe their sizing is off or individual pieces vary. Volume variation seems to happen quite often, go measure all your tea cups!

Comments

The Wall Tea Infuser is an amazing tea mug – I love mine to bits, use it almost every day, and if I ever break it I would immediately repurchase. I love that they have a left handed model, though you should figure out which is your dominate tea drinking hand. The product handles well, easy to use, and a pleasure to drink out of. I want to buy all my friends one, however the price is quite steep at $25-$30 (at this time, also varies depending on Canadian dollar conversion) depending on size.

If you love Grandpa style, The Wall Tea Infuser will give you much joy to use. Left Handed people – someone remembered us!!!!!!!! However, the Wall Tea Infuser is not a great match for tea drinkers who prefer cooled drinking temperature, or types who often forget about their tea.

(Amazon Affiliate Links)

November 2016 White2Tea Club feat. 2016 B__D_ Sheng Puer

November 2016 White2Tea club. This marks 2 years with the White2Tea club, which started in November 2014.

For the 2 year mark, we got a single 50 gram sheng puer cake. It is Lincang material, picked in September, pressed October, and arrived in November. “B_D_” is a mad lib, go fill in whatever gutter brained stuff that comes to mind, but I automatically thought “Big Dinosaur.” Mr T-Rex is usually at my husband’s work desk, but he came home for a visit. He’s been busy chewing on mini tuochas and rawr’ing at Tea Owls, it seemed B_D_ was right.

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B_D_ aired out by my tea table for about a month. I was a little conflicted here – the instructions say to wait, but yet I should drink this now just to see so I don’t leave you readers hanging. Well let’s drink this puer now, and set a google calendar update to retry it later.

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click to enhance!

Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

Maybe I aired it out too much, but I have very little smell on the cake compared when it first arrived. After this session, I’m putting into the pumidor and and the cake it can be a jerk and fall through the shelves due to the tiny size.

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I decided to play it safe and follow White2Tea’s guidance. I under-leafed a touch, 3.5g for a 6oml gaiwan (1 gram to 17ml). I stuck to 200F, I will stick to my guns. I will not wimp out at 185F. I am Hoot.

Tasting of White2Tea’s November 2016 B_D_ Sheng Puer

Steeps up a gentle light amber. The leaf smells fruity and light grassy. This should be fine and not death.

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First and Second Infusion: Oh That is nice! Soft and cuddly! The texture is thick like puddin with dancing sweetness and vegetal. What a friendly tea.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: HURRRRRRRR FAKKKKKKKKKKCC! That’s kinda bitter quite quickly. Reminds me of science class in grade school where we tested our sense of taste, blindfolded, and your arse of a teacher feeds you a potato instead of the apple piece – mix of disappointment and being trolled. The bitterness hits the tip of my tongue, then flavor ripples through with a nice thickness, mineral, sharp vegetal with a potato grater feel of dryness. The end of sip is a wet stone mineral sweet, toying back to the first steeps of being pudding sweet. The fragrance is sharp and heavy, and I got the feels of being viced in the head.

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Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: I took a step back and went back to flash steeps to tame this beast of a tea. The texture is really flipping nice, it is coating my mouth in cream, then so much complexity of mineral, sweet, and leafy notes – which contrast with bitterness, dry cheeks and beefy aftertaste of mineral and light grass. The faster steeps here chilled out the bitterness, but I can still taste it looming over in my mouth, like a T-rex standing over you without you noticing… something feels off but you aren’t sure what.

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Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion: B_D_ is losing its complexity and getting a bit more easier to drink. It got more vegetal, as it tastes like buttered broad beans to me, with a bit of an apricot finish. At this stage it is quite astringent though, my mouth is quite dry, my tongue is dried out and I can feel my beak gums. I must resist the urge to blow my mouth as if I was flapping my gums like a horse.

Thirteenth and Fourteenth Infusion: I did longer steeps here, about 2-5 minutes. The flavor jumped back to bitter and really dry – this time the bad bitter without any sweetness. The aftertaste is a lovely apricot though. There’s another couple steeps here, but the power bitter is enough to get me to jump ship now. I spotted the T-rex and figured I should cut my losses and run now.

Hmm, I think he is hungry. I better get some Costco Rotisserie chicken.

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Comments

In this state, 2016 B_D_ sheng is just really young and you need to play by ear to tame the strong bitterness. This tea likely would not at all be enjoyed if you dislike bitter or dry teas. However, resist the urge to swap it – toss it in your crock or pumidor and hold onto it. This tea tastes awesomely complex now with great feel – it could be wicked later!

Here is to another year of White2Tea club! /wallet sobbing

Bonus: Helpful DINO!

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World Atlas of Tea, Book by Krisi Smith – Book Review

If you are familiar with the UK tea seller Bluebird Tea Co, the World Atlas of Tea is written by their mixologist, Krisi Smith. Bluebird Tea Co has some fantastic tea blends unique to them, that I should really try more of. I keep buying or getting tea books over the last few years, however I never reviewed any until today. I am more partial to the cook book variety of tea books as I collect physical cookbooks with my husband, and buy everything else as ebook. Lets check out the World Atlas of Tea and learn about tea!

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World Atlas of Tea, Book Review

The World Atlas of Tea is read as a primer to learn about the origin of tea and growing regions. There is also a large section outlining the basics of how tea is made, brewing and tasting. The overall perspective and focus is on British, western prepared teas.

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Bulk of the book goes into detail about each tea growing region, though covers big, mostly well known regions, omitting more esoteric places like Hawaii or Korea. There is some basic information on different tea types and general flavor profiles, covering more popularly known teas. It felt that this region section was more of a reference guide, hence the name “atlas” but missed out on listing more information on other teas and regions.

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World Atlas of Tea went into some tea basics on storage and brewing, with some great info on different infusers, temperatures & times, and how to make the perfect pot of tea. There is also information on how to make matcha and lattes. This is when I realized this book is heavy western style focused when I found along with temperature charts, was also mentioning which teas to add milk to. I cringed at the thought of adding milk to a heavy roast Dong Ding. I also laughed, as for my own steeping experience, I boil more teas LIKE A BOSS. No mention on how to steep puer – though puer was mentioned only once early in the book as a single paragraph on what it was.

By the way, there is no mention of Gongfu cha style steeping or gaiwans. There is a passage on yixing pot care and lots of great photos of yixing pots, but otherwise the understanding of brewing and drinking is very western.

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For me, the most interesting section was the tea blending part. The book goes into detail how tea blends are made, and how you can scent or blend your own at home. There are also a couple example tea blend recipes to get you started. Other tea books I’ve read don’t cover this as they get caught up on unflavored teas and snub nose flavored ones, or just talk about floral scenting. This part of the book was its strength and well written, due to expertise of the tea mixologist author.

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Other than those latte tutorials and tea blending ideas, there are no other recipes in this book, which can be seen as a bonus or negative. Sometimes those recipes seem out of place and forced in for the sake of having “oh hey you can cook with tea or put booze in your tea.” That or the recipes aren’t that great and if you want recipes – go buy a tea book focused on recipes. Other times, tea recipes can be seen as inspiration of what you can do with tea. World Atlas of Tea briefly touches on food pairings, but could of been expanded as that would of been useful information for the blending portion.

Overall, World Atlas of Tea is a starting point tea book for a new tea drinker looking to get more information on their western style teas or getting started with tea. There’s lots of information and reference on all the main growing regions, plus great tips on how to make tea. The photographs in World Atlas of Tea are amazing, plenty of full or double paged photos, making great to flip through and admire – just like an atlas! I like to think I know quite a bit about tea, so much of the information I know, but the awesome photos make it worth to have just to browse through, plus the blending section gets my creativity going.


 

(book provided for review / Amazon affiliate links)

 

 

2016 We Go High Sheng Puer from White2Tea

I snagged a sample of White2Tea’s new 2016 We Go High Sheng Puer, feeling a little scared. This tea could be an inspirational of a puer “we beat those low blow bullies”  or the mega tea drunk style. 2016 We Go High Sheng Puer is described as “A blend of raw Puer material with a diverse profile. Sweet and soft, elegant soup. Weighty flavors appear in later steeps with a soft entry. Pressed tightly for the long haul, but very drinkable now.”

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Official Wrapper Art

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

2016 We Go High Sheng Puer is pretty fragrant. It has a sharp, tangy fruit scent that makes my nose wiggle and itch. I quickly rubbed my nose and I am now worried I am about to start a tea that might make things go very weird. We Go High Sheng has a nice colourful appearance of dark greens, olives and the odd silver leaf.

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I started with my typical steeping method of using 1gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel. 200F water temperature and a single rinse.

Tasting of White2Tea’s 2016 We Go High Sheng Puer

Steeps up clear pale cream yellow tint. The hot wet leaf smells very strong – like a steam facial of hot grass and a 1000 angry peaches. This scent really sets off my nose in itching and as much as I love puer smell, I think this is warning number 2 I’m about to drink something very tea drunk druggy.

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First and Second Infusion: The flavor is pretty strong for a first couple steeps that I often consider rinses. It’s soft, but has a powerful back of the mouth fragrance of green peppers and paperback books. A fruity pear taste sneaks in as an aftertaste, and sometimes I get a bitter green pepper skin flavor. Right away I feel as if I am getting a head massage from one of those wire head massagers that give you chills down the spine. WHAT HAVE I DONE?! I had surgery 2 weeks ago, I’m off the handfuls of medications finally. IS THIS TOO SOON?!?!?!

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Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh Infusion: Well I can feel my heart beating through my ears. I think We Go High Sheng is trying to kill me. The wrapper is not accurate, it should have a tentacle creature that sucks your brain and whispers things into your ears. Right after the 3rd infusion… the take over came.

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“BOW DOWN TO ME, OVERLORD OWLTOPUS, TENTACULOWL OF SOULS. Foolish crock. How dare you not offer more tea blog posts over the last few weeks…”

“But, I had surgery. I was tired and couldn’t move around on my own…”

“SILENCE. BWHAHAHAHAHHAHA you are weak Owl. You are not prepared.” /BRAIN SLUUURURRRRRPPPP
“BEGIN THE RITUALISTIC DANCING!”

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YASSSS!! (Art by Meg Lynman)

We Go High Sheng is pretty strong and sharp. It’s got a bite of bitterness on the tongue, like a bit of burnt reflections of baking cookies in a shiny cookie sheet. There is an acrid dryness in the back of the throat and roof of my mouth. Each sip is like eating a crisp green pepper pizza, and aftertaste is dessert of beauty counter floral perfume, stone fruit, and sweets. The texture is a thin silk that coats your lips like balm.

Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: Upped the temperature to boiling as per OVERLORD OWLTOPUS command. I found boiling bumped the bitter dryness, but OVERLORD OWLTOPUS effect is strong, then tea needs to be pushed into. Tuhao AF was only a set back, WE WILL HAVE OUR REVENGE. The flavor continues the sharp, bitter, crisp vegetal with an elegant floral, sweet aftertaste.

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Eleventh, Twelfth, Thirteenth Infusion: We Go high tastes like bitter and butter. The move to boil was a good idea, the texture got more slick and heavy, and continues the theory of this tea being a green pepper greasy pizza. As part of the ritual, I started flailing around the house and provided thin chocolate oreos to our esteemed guests of OVERLORD OWLTOPUS. He was disappointed in my lack of car as this tea would go great with handfuls of fast food greasy french fries.

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Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth Infusion: Longs steeps here. I’m not sure how long as time became fuzzy. We Go High sheng moved to mostly a bitter flavor with a strong sandpaper dry mouth feel, giving me scratchy cheeks and biting lips. I tried to tea sober by stepping outside in 1c weather, trying to break the spell and save the Tea Owls. We lost.

The steeped leaves feature some large pale green big leaf and some thick stem pieces. I got most of the scent out, but I might of gotten another bitter round.

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Comments

White2Tea’s 2016 We Go High Sheng Puer is a sensation tea – you drink it for the feels. The notes are pretty heavy, with a strong bitterness that would not be suited for anyone who dislikes bitter and dryness. I’m not confident, but I would guess there is Bulang material in this tea as it has that bitter facepunch element that I’ve tasted in young bulang shengs. As a texture addict, the texture wasn’t calling to me until I boiled it, but at the risk of cooking this sheng to bitter slop. Running tea steeping theory, you can probably steep this 185F and bypass the bitter, but lose the texture completely and run 15+ infusions before it overcooks into vegetal bitter.

2016 We Go High Sheng Puer, at this time, is priced at $139 for a 200 gram cake. I got quite a few rounds out of it, so you do get your moneys worth for high amount of sessions. You also have White2Tea’s 2015/2016 Tuhao AF (review coming very soon) at the same price range – in comparison I find Tuhao more approachable with a crazy awesome fragrance but with less bitterness and octo-owl takeover.

Tea drunk rating… 11/10. I completely lost my mind during the third infusion and it continued throughout. It’s a head fuzzy, brain massager, maniac, and blood pressure riser kind of tea feel. Before the puer session I did have an oolong and ate a sandwich, so in my experience a punchy puer shouldn’t of beat me this bad coming in with a full gas tank. We Go High is unrelenting… it is out to get you.

Going Gongfu Tea Set from The Tea Spot

I got a preview of The Tea Spot‘s Going Gongfu Tea Set at the 2016 World Tea Expo… and was told to keep it a secret until launch. When I encountered this tea set I was in love with how pretty it was – the glazing and design is so nice! Finally the Going Gongfu set is for sale and I got my claws on it! Ooohoothoothoot!

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Going Gongfu Tea Set Stats

The Tea Spot’s Going Gongfu

  • 8oz/ 235ml tea pot
  • 80z/235ml pitcher
  • 1.5oz/45ml tea cups x 2 (additional cups can be purchased)
  • Lead Free, Cadmium Free. Meets FDA, LFGB, CA Prop 65, RoHS standards!!!!!
  • Gift Packaging
  • Tieguanyin oolong sample included

Unboxing of The Tea Spot’s Going Gongfu Tea Set

I like how bright Tea Spot’s packaging is. The design of this package would make for an excellent gift. Here is the sides of the box.

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Inside the box! The tea set is held quite securely too!going-gonfu-the-tea-spot-3

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Features of Going Gongfu Tea Set

The Going Gongfu tea set has a lovely rabbit hair style glaze in a vibrant blue. The glaze and material is on the thick side, so I suggest a good preheat before your start making your tea – that way you’ll won’t get a temperature drop and longer heat retention. The thickness makes this set ideal for long sessions.

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I am drinking The Tea Spot’s Organic Dark Roast Oolong. I feel like drinking something stick-to-my-ribs over the floral tieguanyin that is included with the set.

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Going Gongfu Tea Pot

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Feet!

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Great pour – This tea pot pours fairly fast, and cleanly. I got a few drips if I poured aggressively vertical, but otherwise no drips.

Perfect fit lid – The lid doesn’t wobble or fall out while pouring. No tea escapes through the air hole in the top.

Straining – The tea pot has 3 flat holes behind the spout. The tea I’m using has some small bits, so a strainer caught a few strays. Japanese Greens, CTC blacks, and rooibos would not do well and will need a strainer. However any big leaf teas of decent quality that tend to be gongfu’d don’t need a filter or strainer.

Going Gongfu Pitcher

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This pitcher is AMAZING and beautiful. I’m a sucker for simple and clean design so there’s some bias of personal taste here. This is the shining star of this set and this is one of the best pitchers I’ve used. It is not a hard bar to pass as pitchers aren’t that technical, but this Going Gongfu pitcher is really nice. The size is perfect – 8oz again, so it holds the entire tea pot pour.

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It lacks a handle, but there is a flare underneath the lip which is a perfect width for my fingers. I find this design isn’t running too hot either. It is a wide pitcher, but the lip still gives good real estate to hold onto. A number of times already I have just used the pitcher on its own without the rest of the set.

Going Gongfu Cups

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The shape of the cups are bulbous and squat. They are a little fat on the lip, but still sip good without any issues. I personally prefer a flared lip for easy slurping, but these cups are.. well.. cups. They work.

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Cons of Going Gongfu Tea Set

Group Size  – This tea pot is too big for a solo drinker and is intended for a group. I am making it work by filling it halfway with water, but it’s not ideal for a lonely drinker. 15-16g of tea is needed for the 1g to 15ml ratio I tend to run on most gongfu style things.

I think this set is really for 2-4 people, and can stretch to 6-8 if you are doing small gongfu tastings. If you fill the tea pot and pour from the pitcher, it fills both cups twice. For two people, it is comfortable for long session of one tea, especially if you are used to Western style large vessel portions. For gongfu for the fully initiated types or wanting to do short tastings, it is too big of a pot, not enough cups…..

However, I see that The Tea Spot sells more of the same cups in a set of 2 or 6, which is great if you want more cups (or just the cups!).

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Comments

Overall, The Tea Spot’s Going Gongfu tea set is very well made and excellent quality. This set is a joy to use as the quality is top notch. It is definitely targeted for someone wanting to try gongfu style with a trained stomach for western style, or for a group. This tea set does NOT have lead in it, so if you are concerned about that you definitely have this option instead of only glassware. I would suggest to purchase extra cups if you want to have a matching set for a bigger crowd – this tea pot is on the big side and can certainly accommodate it.

The Tea Spot is located in Colorado, USA, so shipping isn’t far if you are within North America. At this time Going Gongfu is priced at $49.95 – which I find a deal with the quality of this tea set. The additional tea cups are $9 for 2, $19.95 for 6.

Free Shipping on Orders over $60

(Tea set provided for review/ Affiliate links)

 

2010 Puerh Mini Waffle Brick Shou from Treasure Green Tea Company

I purchased this tea during my last trip to Vancouver Canada. Treasure Green is a tea shop located in China Town in downtown Vancouver. The 2010 Puerh Mini Waffle Brick Shou was a must purchase as it is Treasure Green’s special edition pressing. Turns out, this puer is Bing Dao, Lincang material and it sounds like it is semi-fermented.

I purchased the waffle version, but Treasure Green also sells a 200 gram cake that was too rich for my blood to treat a cake as a sample. They also have a special edition 2012 Bingdao sheng (cake and waffle) that I regret not buying, which hopefully I remember to purchase next visit.

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The packaging is beautiful. It is just a simple stamped label, however the paper is beautiful with leaf embedded in the textured wrapper.

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The shou came with steeping directions that I forgot to follow. Ol’ crochety owl follows her own steeping instructions!

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Dry Leaf

Unwrapped, 2010 Puerh Mini Waffle Brick Shou is tightly compressed into a fun chocolate bar shaped. To my dismay the brick weighs 75grams. I assumed this was a 100 gram brick due to size, but the chocolate bar dents cheated me. Of the three little servings I broke off, they measured 7.5 – 8.5 grams, a generous serving.

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The waffle breaks apart easy, but forget trying to split a single serving in half – this tea is compact! I tried slicing a square down the middle and it was too dangerous to keep trying. That said, accept you are rolling with a  125ml-ish pot/gaiwan, or steep it hard. But hey, this tea isn’t cheap so share it or drink it all day!

Steeping Instructions

I did 1 gram to 15ml (tea weight to vessel volume). I used boiling water and 2 rinses. These bricks are hella compacted, so I used a trick Crimson Lotus taught me recently for  steeping puer balls directly pour onto the ball/brick, pour out the rinse(s), then close up your gaiwan/pot and let the tea steam open in the hot dry-ish vessel for a couple minutes. After a couple minutes I found the waffle brick fell apart and is ready to go!

Tasting of Treasure Green Tea Company’s 2010 Puerh Mini Waffle Brick Shou

The shou steeps up a light ruddy brown with a sweet earth scent.

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First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: Sips in very sweet and smooth. The taste is clean and mineral sweet with an echo of dark chocolate and walnut shells. The finish is the sweetest The texture is slick and thick, making my mouth feel like I’m drinking melted chocolate, yet it’s tea. Each steeping develops more walnut notes and brighter flavor. After each sip gave a bit of a salivating sensation, wanting me to drink more. There is no funky flavors, bitterness, or dryness.

Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: This shou is getting better and better. The texture is ultra creamy, again, still like drinking melted chocolate or heavy cream in texture. The flavor is very bright for a shou – strong mineral, with a twist of rich dark chocolate, with a finish of mejool dates. The highlight here for me is the texture, which is just out of this world.

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Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: Even sweeter? What is this wizardry? The texture is still creamy, but the flavor has shifted to a bright, mineral rock and date sweetness. It is pretty neutral, but most of the enjoyment comes from the texture and sweet. I’m feeling pretty smiley from this tea – it’s got a cuddly feel from the texture, and “I’m cheating on my diet” feeling from the sweetness.

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Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Infusion: The final steepings were long, I ramped up to 30 minutes. The flavor I got slipped more into date, whereas the texture slipped to thin silk. Impressive how the texture still held on this long!

Steeped out, the leaf on this waffle shou still has a bit of green to it. This tea still has aging left to do!

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Comments

Treasure Green’s 2010 Puerh Mini Waffle Brick Shou is also on the list for the cleanest shou I’ve tasted. This shou commands an excellent slick texture and sweet date notes. Admittedly, in the beginning I felt “this is decent” but with each steeping I got more and more impressed. I enjoyed every infusion of this shou and despite rolling with a bigger tea pot than usual, I drank every drop – I couldn’t get enough! I am curious if there is any difference between the waffle and the cake – other sellers told me they use leftover material for waffles/ mini tuochas/ coins, but I am not sure if this is the case or not for the 2010 waffle.

The price on Treasure Green’s 2010 shou is on the expensive side, at this time $26 CND for the 75gram waffle brick, or $75 CND for the 200g cake, which is high rolling for a shou. My guess is there is an added cost from this tea being from a physical store and pretty packaging. These are Canadian prices so there is fluctuation if you are paying in USD, I paid much less at the time when the Canadian Dollar was very low. I recommend Treasure Green’s 2010 Puerh as a treat for the shou puer lover wanting something high roller and excellent quality, you will not be disappointed.